Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Signs Of Life


Papa J and sweet Savannah at my son's wedding this weekend
Successful training for a race has always been about my ability to focus.  Well okay, there's also quite a bit of physical ability and development that goes into it as well.  But if my mind isn't right, I'm literally half the runner I can be.  If I'm not completely locked into the pace, the speed, the endurance, the recovery, etc ... I'm simply spinning my wheels.

Most of you are aware by now that my wife recently lost both of her parents within the short span of 18 days.  And while as each day passes, she is beginning to heal, there is still a mountain of grief she is processing.  It's simply going to take a lot of time.

The toughest thing for me through the entire ordeal has been feeling helpless while the woman I love is in tremendous pain.  I want to somehow lift this heaviness from her, but I can't.  And it's affected everything in our lives.

As with many of us, running has always been somewhat therapeutic for me.  It provides a temporary break from reality, and usually helps me clear my head.  When we first began to deal with the failing health of my wife's parents, I was at the peak of my marathon training.  I think for a long time I thought I could just "power through" the training, in spite of all the mounting distractions around us.  And I maintained my schedule fairly regularly until their health became increasingly worse, Michael's emotions began to roller-coaster, and unfortunately death seemed eminent.  And when they passed, I obviously knew that training and racing for the rest of the year would definitely take a back seat.  And I'm 100% okay with that.  Running and racing is just a hobby.  It's gardening, record collecting, or tinkering with an old car ... just a hobby.  Nothing more.

Really good picture I got of Ryder at his mom & dad's wedding rehearsal,
the lighting was perfect and he looks like a little man!
But while running is only a "hobby", it's probably important for both of us to try to get back to a somewhat regular schedule.  Not that we are trying to force the events of this Fall out of our minds ... of course not ... but probably the sooner we can begin doing some of the things we enjoy, the better.  So with that in mind, I think what I'm going to do is cancel my Wichita Prairie Fire Half-Marathon, and change from the full to half at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.  Indy's still about six weeks away and I might be able to put together a solid race by then.

So this morning, I began an attempt to focus on a race again.  I ran a fairly solid 10 mile Tempo Run with 7 miles at a 6:30/pace.  It didn't feel great, but it was nice to get the legs turning over again.  And it was a positive step in the right direction.

Michael loved her parents deeply, and the sudden loss of both of them will weigh on her for a while.  But she has my unwavering love and support, and she'll get through this because she's an incredibly strong and amazing person.  And I'm sure before too long, she'll be running a race in their honor.  And maybe slowly but surely, I'll regain the focus necessary to run well also.  Today was a good beginning.
... be great today! 

8 comments:

  1. Aw, you guys. I feel so bad for your family. So much going on. Please don't underestimate the level of stress you're both under - losing loved ones, lots of travel, marriage in the family, AND hard workouts combined could be extremely taxing. I hope you and Michael are both able to take some time to relax and grieve, and let yourselves heal a little before diving back into the stresses of everyday life.

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    1. Thanks Grace, we're definitely taking it slow. If running happens it happens, no big deal.

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  2. During tough times like these it's good to get out and exercise but it's just so important to be gentle with yourself too. I've had a very tough emotional time with one of my sons this year - the hardest thing by far that I've ever had to deal with and is still ongoing. Running has taken a huge back seat. I run when I can and when I can't it just doesn't matter. Walking has been a great option to just get outside and breathe fresh air. My thoughts are still with you both.

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    1. Thanks Char, that's kind of where we're at right now too. Neither of us are putting too much pressure on to run well, which makes it more enjoyable.

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  3. I went through some very stressful times last year and did some reading on effects of stress on recovery (. . . after I got injured). Basically, your body interprets physical stress (from running, working out, getting attacked by a bear) in the same way that it interprets psychological stress (from work, relationships, school, even our own race goals). Both types of stressors invoke a stress response from our sympathetic nervous system, which releases stress hormones, fueling the flight or fight response. Most people experience 50 flight or fight responses a day. But we experience more during times of great stress. To counteract stress, the parasympathetic nervous system invokes a relaxation response once the immediate physical or physiological danger has passed. But the relaxation response is not invoked if the stress is ever present, and there is a limit to how much stress your body can counteract. To sum it up, you just can't recover as well from your workouts when you have lots of other stress sources. So glad you are taking it easy. My thoughts are with you both! Kristen

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    1. Kristen - that's one of the most fascinating comments anyone has ever left here, and it really peaked my interest! Thank you so much for that information, I'm off to research more on it now - and thank you for your kind words. Please keep an eye out for bears!

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  4. I think you are handling this exactly in the right way. It will never be the same because things have changed but it will be good again. Blessings!

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    1. Thanks Johann, I really appreciate the kind words

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